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Office of the Press Secretary

President Obama Signs Puerto Rico Disaster Declaration

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and ordered federal aid to supplement commonwealth and local recovery efforts in the area struck by Hurricane Irene beginning on August 21, 2011, and continuing.

The President's action makes federal funding available to affected individuals in the municipalities of Caguas, Canóvanas, Carolina, Cayey, Loíza, Luquillo, and San Juan.

Assistance can include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the disaster.

Federal funding also is available to commonwealth and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Hurricane Irene in the municipalities of Aguas Buenas, Carolina, Cayey, Ceiba, Comerío, Juncos, Las Marías, Luquillo, Morovis, Naguabo, Orocovis, Utuado, Vega Baja, and Villalba. 

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures for the entire commonwealth.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Justo Hernández as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said that damage surveys are continuing in other areas, and additional municipalities may be designated for assistance after the assessments are fully completed.

FEMA said that residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated municipalities can begin applying for assistance tomorrow by registering online at http://www.DisasterAssistance.govor by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or

1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired.  The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice. 

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION MEDIA SHOULD CONTACT:  FEMA NEWS DESK AT (202) 646-3272 OR FEMA-NEWS-DESK@DHS.GOV

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